The National Football League (NFL) coaching carousel continues to spin with the occasional stop before not one, but two conference title games.
Prior to the start of Sunday’s conference championships, numerous outlets confirmed that Josh McDaniels has been named the new head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Dave Ziegler, a former New England Patriots colleague, will join him as the team’s next general manager.
McDaniels has spent most of his coaching career in New England in multiple roles, including defensive assistant, quarterbacks coach, and most recently as the team’s offensive coordinator. He arrived in New England in 2001 as a personal assistant after his initial coaching stint as a graduate assistant with Michigan State in 1999.
This is not McDaniels’ first head coaching role as he led the Denver Broncos to an 8-8 finish in 2009 before getting fired one year later after guiding the Broncos to a 3-9 start.
McDaniels remerge in 2011 as the St. Louis Rams’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach before returning to New England in 2012 as both the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. His coaching certainly had an impact on Tom Brady, who guided the Patriots to six Super Bowls, and Mac Jones, the organization’s initial draft choice last April.
The 2021 season was a tumultuous one for the Raiders, headlined by the firing of their former head coach Jon Gruden to the release of two players, including Henry Ruggs III. But somehow, someway, the Silver and Black were able to secure a spot in the postseason where they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in the opening round.
McDaniels becomes the second NCAA Division III football alum to be named a head coach this offseason — Brian Dabol, who played defensive back for the University of Rochester, accepted the head coaching role on Friday with the New York Giants.
The National Football League (NFL) coaching carousel continues to spin. But it has also stopped three times in the last two days with a pair of coaches earning head roles with the Chicago Bears and New York Giants, respectively.
One day later, Brian Dabol went from calling offensive plays for the Buffalo Bills to becoming the head coach of the Giants.
Both the Bears and Giants are desperate for a turnaround — we are sure the league office would like to see two of the oldest franchises compete for the Vince Lombardi Trophy next February. But like we have previously with Nathaniel Hackett, it’s time to get to know not one, but two new head coaches in the NFL.
Who is Matt Eberflus?
A coach with 30 years of experience, including 17 in the collegiate world, but there is more, of course.
With the Colts, Eberflus helped the Blue and White become the least penalized team in 2019 and 2021 and finish in the top-10 in scoring, run defense, and takeaways the last two seasons (2020 and 2021).
One thing Eberflus did quite well as the leader of the Colts defense was to develop Darius Leonard into one of the best linebackers currently. Leonard, who was named the 2018 Associated Press (AP) Defensive Rookie of the Year, has tallied 121 total tackles or more in four seasons with the Colts while producing a career-best eight forced fumbles this past fall.
Eberflus, who played linebacker at the University ofToledo, coached the position with the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys — he was also the Cowboys’ passing game coordinator in 2016 and 2017. And like Leonard, he made an impact on two former Dallas linebackers: Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.
This will be Eberflus’s first head coaching role – he certainly will have his work cut out for him as the Bears have not produced a winning season since 2018 when they lost in the Wild Card round to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Who is Brian Dabol?
For starters, he was the previous offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. And if you know anything about the Bills, then you certainly know they have a pretty good quarterback named Josh Allen. Dabol made both Allen and the Bills’ offense fun to watch these last few seasons, but can he duplicate that same success with Daniel Jones?
Additionally, Dabol gained experience coaching the defense with the New England Patriots in 2000 and 2001 — he was a defensive assistant — after beginning his career on the sidelines as a volunteer assistant with William & Mary in 1997.
Dabol has never been a head coach so it will be interesting to see how he does in his first season with Giants, who have not posted a winning season since 2016.
Welcome to the conference championship weekend – are you ready for another exciting weekend of National Football League (NFL) playoff football?
Last week, we were treated to some exciting football – I can’t say it was the cleanest football, but it was fun.
This week, we should be treated to not one, but two great matchups, so without further ado, allow me to share my predictions for the conference championships.
Enjoy the games and best of luck to everyone in the snow tomorrow!
Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, January 30 at 3 p.m.): I picked the Bengals last week to beat the Tennessee Titans. I even predicted they would win their opening-round matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders. But as much as I would like to pick them again this week, I just don’t think their offensive line will be able to contain the Chiefs’ front seven. It would be a great story to see Joe Burrow in his second season leading the Bengals back to the “big game,” but I think Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will make one, two, or three extra plays to secure a spot in next month’s Super Bowl. PREDICTION: Kansas City 31, Cincinnati 26
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (Sunday, January 30 at 6:30 p.m.): It’s hard to pick against the 49ers – they have a great deal of momentum on their side. And while they appear banged-up and tired, especially after two hard-fought postseason contests with the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, I think it would be hard for me to pick against them this weekend. San Francisco has been playing some inspirational football, which started earlier this month when they defeated Los Angeles in their regular-season finale. PREDICTION: San Francisco 27, Los Angeles 23
Hackett is the first coordinator or assistant coach to fill one of the National Football League’s (NFL) head coaching vacancies — others will be named over the next few days and weeks — but before he inks his name on a new contract, let’s learn about the new leader of the Broncos.
Nathaniel is the son of Paul Hackett, a former professional and collegiate football coach that was born in Burlington, Vermont. Paul held numerous coordinator or assistant roles in the NFL but was a head coach twice for the University of Pittsburgh and University of Southern California.
Hackett played football at the University of California, Davis. He earned the George Belenis Award as a co-scout team player of the year in 1998 with Trae Milton before earning the Bob Foster Aggie Pride Award in 2002.
His coaching career began in 2003 as the UC Davis assistant linebacker’s coach before earning additional roles with Stanford University and Syracuse University. He spent two years at Stanford – he was a specialist/recruiting coordinator in 2005.
In 2006, Hackett made his NFL debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their offensive quality control coach before accepting the same duties in 2008 and 2009 with the Buffalo Bills.
Most recently, he was spotted on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars as both their quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator before joining Matt LaFleur in Green Bay to oversee the offense the last three seasons.
Our “Getting to Know” series, a first-ever in the history of Noontime Sports, will introduce our football fans and friends to new head coaches in the NFL. Be on the lookout for future posts once more teams announce their next coach for the upcoming 2022 season.
Ah, the National Football League’s (NFL) second season has arrived – are you ready for playoff football?
I am and hope you are, as well!
With the Wild Card round set to begin tomorrow — that would be Saturday, January 15, 2022, with a pair of games, — it is time to share some thoughts on all six matchups, as well as make some picks.
As usual, let us know what you think (of what I predicted below) with a comment or connect with us on social media.
Enjoy the games and make sure to circle back for more football (and maybe, some non-football content?) throughout the weekend.
Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals (Saturday, Jan. 15 at 4:30 p.m.): Earlier this year, I thought the Silver and Black were going to be one of the toughest teams to beat, especially in the postseason. And despite winning four straight contests, including an-end-of season win against the Los Angeles Chargers, I don’t think their momentum will travel with them to Ohio where quarterback Joe Burrow and the Bengals will be able to score the franchise’s first postseason win since January 6, 1991, against the Houston Oilers. PREDICTION: Cincinnati 30, Las Vegas 20
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (Saturday, January 15 at 8:15 p.m.): Quarterback Mac Jones exceeded expectations — he played much better than I thought he would as a first-time professional starter. Yet, the former University of Alabama signal-caller has hit the “rookie wall,” which makes me think that these Patriots will have a tough time keeping up with Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. PREDICTION: Buffalo 25, New England 13
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday, January 16 at 1 p.m.): Somewhere, Doug Pederson is smiling as his former team somehow secured a playoff spot with an unknown first-year coach named Nick Sirianni. As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I have been impressed with what Sirianni and his staff have been able to accomplish this season — hey, they’re a pretty good running team! But unfortunately, I don’t think this particular Eagles squad will be able to keep pace with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers on Sunday. Had this matchup pitted the 2017 Eagles against the 2021 Buccaneers, then I would have picked Philadelphia. PREDICTION: Tampa Bay 28, Philadelphia 17
San Francisco at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, January 16 at 4:30 p.m.): The last time these two teams met, the 49ers beat the Cowboys in the 1994 NFC Championship Game en route to winning Super Bowl XXIX. Could a win on Sunday provide the winning team with the necessary momentum to capture the title next month? It’s possible, but in the end, the team that makes fewer mistakes will win this particular matchup. And as a Cowboys fan, I believe this particular Dallas squad will be ready to make one — maybe two or three more plays than San Francisco to win Sunday’s meeting. PREDICTION: Dallas 28, San Francisco 27
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, January 16 at 8:15 p.m.): Earlier this week, I picked the Chiefs because they will be at home. But these are not the same Chiefs from 2018, 2019, and 2020. I think they’re vulnerable. Additionally, I think the Steelers defense will pose problems for Patrick Mahomes. So, I am taking the road team in an exciting upset win — why not? PREDICTION: Pittsburgh 20, Kansas City 18
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (Monday, January 17 at 8:15 p.m.): When the Cardinals defeated the Cowboys two weeks ago, it seemed as if their late-season slide was over. But last week, they fell to the Seattle Seahawks in their regular-season finale to secure a matchup with the Los Angeles Rams next Monday. Quarterback Kyler Murray has been inconsistent over the last few weeks. He looked like he was going to have an amazing season in September, but between his up-and-down play, along with some not-so-great plays by the offense and defense over the last few weeks, it would be hard to pick them to beat the Rams. PREDICTION: Los Angeles 30, Arizona 24